The Pearl by John Steinbeck


John Steinbeck's story of dirt poor folks who find wealth and hope for a better life only to find nothing but problem is presented in a setting that really helps him make his points.

Kino is a poor Mexican-Indian pearl diver like his father was and his grandfather was.Kino is married to Juana and their baby, Coyotito, is bitten by a scorpion, but the doctor won’t help them because he doesn’t think they have any money and because of his prejudice for Kino’s race.

Kino goes to dive for oysters hoping to get some money to help. He finds a very large oyster and inside of it is a pearl the size of sea gull’s egg. Good fortune follows, briefly, when he returns to his wife because the baby’s swelling has gone down. Word spreads fast about the large pearl and everyone thinks about the great wealth it represents.

The doctor comes by referring to Coyotito his patient, and then he secretly makes Coyotito sick, so he can pretend to heal her. He demands payment and gets to see the pearl and learns where it is kept. A Priest who would offer no blessing comes by to bless the baby.  Someone comes that night to steal the pearl and in a fight with Kino both are hurt. Kuno decides to sell the pearl quickly, but the peal buyers conspire with each other to claim the pearl is too big and offer very little.

Again, the next night more intruders come to his home, and beat him, looking for the pearl. Juana begs Kino to throw the pearl back into the ocean, but he refuses and wants to take it to the capital city to sell it. Juana that night takes the pearl to the beach to through it back, but Kino follows and stops her. Kino is attacked and beaten again but he kills his attacker with his knife. They go to get their canoe to leave but find it smashed.

That night Kino, Juana, and Coyotito leave walking to go to the village of Loreto being careful to not leave tracks. Even with their precautions they still are tracked, and they flee to the mountains and hide in a cave, but the trackers still find them.  In a fight that breaks out both trackers are killed but a bullet from one of their guns kills their daughter, Coyotito.

They go back to the town carrying the dead body of Coyotito and when they reach the town, Kino throws the pearl back into the sea. 

Quotes from The Pearl

"But the pearls were accidents, and the finding of one was luck, a little pat on the back by God or the gods both."

"Luck, you see, brings bitter friends.” 

"And the music of the pearl drifted to a whisper and disappeared."